Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has retained a lobbying firm to fight for his NFL team’s interests. The move follows the team launching a nonprofit to help distressed American Indians and an unambiguous pledge to keep the team’s nickname despite loud calls to abandon it.
Politico reports that the firestorm over the Washington Redskins’ team nickname has compelled the team to hire a major K Street lobbying firm to deal with the fallout. The Skins hired McGuireWoods Consulting in late May, only a week after fifty senators attacked the Redskins in a letter to the NFL requesting a name change for the team. They wrote, “The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur.”
According to a disclosure to the House, McGuireWoods will tackle “discussions of team origins, history and traditions, Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and youth sports, activities of Original Americans’ Foundation.”
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has rebuffed efforts to change the team’s name, saying, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER–you can use caps.” Last year the Redskins hired Lanny Davis, the seasoned public relations expert, to represent the team.
The flurry of opposition to the team’s name has included Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) blustering on the Senate floor “How long will the NFL continue to do nothing–zero–as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?” A bill has been written by various Democratic members of Congress to remove the Redskins’ trademark, which would allow counterfeiters to sell knock-off gear with impunity. The efforts to change the team’s name are given more weight because the NFL has nonprofit tax-exempt status, leaving room for Congress to interfere. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, may go after the NFL by questioning its tax status.
Meanwhile, many members of the media have decided to refer to the team as the “Washington Football Team” or the “Pigskins.” Boycotters include The Kansas City Star, Washington City Paper, New Republic, and Slate.